Area of Law: Criminal Records
Answer Number: 2100
What is a criminal record?Region: Ontario Answer Number: 2100
Not all dealings with the police result in a criminal record. For example,if the police give you a parking ticket, this is an offence under a municipal by-law and is not considered criminal. If you are charged with a provincial driving offence, such as making an improper lane change, this is an offence under provincial traffic legislation and is not criminal.
Having said that however, for practical purposes, any record held at a government office, containing information about a person’s criminal activity or involvement is considered to be a type of criminal record. This is so because many different types of criminal information can be collected, stored and used against an individual. In essence, if anything is on file, a police clearance cannot be obtained. For example, if a person was a suspect in a criminal investigation his or her name and date of birth will be on file with the police. This type of file is called an incident report. Although no charges were laid, a police records search will show that the individual was a suspect in a criminal investigation.
If you have ever been fingerprinted in relation to a criminal offence, you have a criminal record which will appear on police record searches. Even if you were found not guilty or if the charges were withdrawn, stayed or dismissed there is a police record of your arrest, a court record of your trial, and an RCMP record.
Once a criminal record exists, it is up to the individual to take the proper steps to have the record removed.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.
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